Book Reviews – What’s God Up To On Planet Earth by Mark J. Keown

Reviewer: Fiona Prestidge

This book is pitched by the author for an evangelistic purpose – giving the reader an ‘intelligent and coherent‘ presentation of the gospel. It’s great to have a conversational-style book, written by a Kiwi with excellent theological credentials. It’s a good length at 127 pages, and is supported by personal anecdote, extensive end notes, most of which are biblical references, and a massive list of books appended.

The book’s chapters systematically address the whole salvation story, each conveniently starting with an R:

  • Relationship – this first chapter is about God creating humanity for an eternal loving relationship with him;
  • Rupture – this chapter deals with sin, evil and separation from God;
  • Restoration – here is the answer to the rupture, God providing the means of restoration and salvation through Jesus Christ;
  • Return – this is a leap ahead to the climax of human history when Jesus comes back gloriously to earth, and God’s people will be with him forever; and
  • Response – this is the challenge to the reader to repent and follow Jesus, to have a believing faith and intention to live for Jesus as Lord.

The final chapter ‘Where to from here?’ is a quick romp through some basic steps as a follower: reading the Bible, praying, living right, loving others, the church, and sharing one’s new faith.

I would confidently give this to a non-Christian who was interested to know about the faith. Each chapter ends with questions for reflection and these would helpfully stretch the enquirer and draw out a personal engagement with what is written. The book is likely to appeal to those wanting to hear a thoughtful presentation about Christianity.

For those who have a new or immature faith this book would be a useful tool in the discipleship journey. Also, for Christians who feel somewhat inadequate in their ability to explain the gospel, this book could be a big help by building understanding and confidence to be able to articulate the Christian message. The five Rs structure is a real gem.

 

Reviewer – Rose Radford

This book while accurately setting out God’s gospel message is written in such a way as to encourage unbelievers to continue reading.   For believers it is a confirmation of one’s belief.   The Christian message is set out under 5 headings (5R’s)  – relationship, rupture, restoration, return and response.  Each chapter ends with questions which give the reader food for thought.

Relationship – Why are we here?  God’s original plan was for humanity to have a relationship with him.   There has to be a starting point ,God. History points us to Jesus, and Jesus reveals God to us. God is good and holy. We do not recognise freedom until we lose it.

Rupture –  What’s wrong with the World?   God’s plan is spoilt by sin, relationships between God and his created people have been broken . God is pure and will not dwell with evil.  All creation is now corrupted by sin and evil and until restored we are all separated from God.  Change needs to start with me.

Restoration –  What is the solution?  Restoration through Jesus Christ.  God’s grief was caused by man’s  separation from him, because God loved the world like a parent, his mission was to save the world and so He became the saviour.   Jesus life was sinless and His death and resurrection means that we can now be restored to a relationship with God, despite our sin.   In the past there were animal sacrifices but in the New Testament atonement came through the death and resurrection of Jesus (one sacrifice for all).   In committing ourselves to Jesus, we are spiritually resurrected with Him.   God sees us through Jesus perfection.   God is saving the world through Jesus in order to restore it to its original purpose which is an eternal life-giving relationship with Him.

Return – When and how will it all end? When Jesus comes back to earth once His message has gone to all the world. So we all need to be ready,  He will come when we least expect it.

Response – How do we get saved?  What about you?  Repent, turn from selfish desires and have faith in God.  Hear the message and believe it, offer yourself to God and by His grace you will receive the Spirit of God.

So what happens next?  Follow in Jesus footsteps.     Also read the Bible, it is the Word of God, pray everyday, talk to God, love God and everyone.  Join a church, pass God’s message on to others.

The appendix asks the question “Am I really a sinner?  Helping people to realise  “all have sinned”.  The end notes suggest different views and ideas and refer to Bible verses.

There is also a section which refers to other resources and books.

I really enjoyed reading the book, but must admit had never thought of any other way for the rapture than that those left behind would be the unbelievers, and found the thoughts expressed here very interesting.

This book could, I am sure, provide very good discussion in a small group situation.      It has been well worth reading.    I believe a non-Christian reader would be prepared to read the book, and because of the way it is written be prepared to read it to the end and hopefully make a life changing decision.

Thank you for the personal testimony and the encouragement you have given the readers to respond.   May all those who read the book be blessed.

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